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High Risk Pool Insures Nebraskans with Pre-Existing Conditions

Nebraskans previously denied health insurance due to their medical history may now be able to obtain coverage through a special plan created by the new health care law.

The Pre-Existing Condition Insurance Plan (PCIP) is a temporary, high-risk insurance pool for uninsured Americans. More than 31,000 Nebraskans who have been shut out of private insurance because of a pre-existing medical condition such as cancer or diabetes may now be eligible for coverage under the PCIP.

“The PCIP is a first step to help people with pre-existing health conditions get the insurance they need,” said Sunny Andrews, AARP Nebraska State President. “Within three years, barring people from insurance coverage based on their health status will be a thing of the past.”

Nebraskans with pre-existing conditions who have been uninsured for six months can apply for coverage through the PCIP, which is administered by the federal government in Nebraska. Under this new program, participants receive comprehensive coverage for primary and specialty care, hospital care and prescription drugs.

The PCIP is offering three plan choices for people enrolling in 2011: the Standard Plan, the Extended Plan and the Health Savings Account eligible plan with varying premiums and deductibles. Premiums in the Standard Plan will be nearly 20 percent lower than 2010 premiums. In addition, families will be able to enroll their eligible children in the program at child-only rates.

The PCIP will operate until 2014, when the health insurance exchanges and ban on pre-existing condition exclusions take effect. Insurance companies will be required to insure people even if they are or have been sick or disabled and they cannot drop people when they get sick.

People without coverage will be able to buy insurance through these exchanges and those with incomes below 400 percent of poverty ($88,000 for a family of four in 2010) will qualify for tax credits that will keep premium costs below 10 percent of the family’s income. There also will be protections in place to curb excessive premium rates because of age, gender, or health condition.

For more information on the federal PCIP and to get an application for this temporary insurance coverage, call 1-866-717-5826.

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